Why were the British interested in the Cape of South Africa?

Why were the British interested in the Cape of South Africa?

The Cape of South Africa went through two major periods of colonization by the European powers.




The first Europeans to establish their rule at the Cape in South Africa were the Dutch, in 1652 under the Dutch East India company.

The British became the second Europeans to occupy the Cape of South Africa after the Dutch and they occupied it twice.

The British first occupied the Cape of South Africa between1795-1802 from the Dutch.

The British then returned it to the Dutch at the peace treaty of Amiens in 1802 signed between Britain and France under the rule of Napoleon Bonaparte.




The British then re-occupied the Cape in 1806, after the Battle of Blaauwberg and ruled it up to 1910 when the Union of South Africa was attained.

The British became interested in the Cape because of a number of reasons which included among others;

The British feared that the European wars fought during Napoleonic rule would spread and spill over to South Africa and destroy her interests in India.
The British wanted to protect the sea route to India so as to protect her commercial empire and interest in the Middle and Far East (Asian continent).

The British were encouraged by the good relationship between the two royal families i.e. the Dutch Crown Government and the British Royal Families.
The collapse of the Dutch East India Company in 1794 also paved way for the British occupation of the Cape since it created an administrative vacuum.




The British responded to the request made by King William V of Holland to the British Crown to protect her overseas possessions including the Cape.
The Cape was strategically located and it was halfway between Europe and Asia and this encouraged the British to take over Cape from the Dutch.

The British wanted to protect the many British farmers who were living at the Cape and those who were being mistreated at the Cape by the Dutch.

The British wanted to get market for their manufactured goods from Britain since many people had settled at the Cape during the Dutch regime.




They wanted to get raw materials for their industries which were established following the industrial revolution in Europe hence they took over Cape colony.

The British wanted to use the Cape as a calling and refreshment station for the sailors from Britain to India since the journey was too long and tiresome.

The British occupied the Cape for prestigious reasons since there was the belief that the more colonies one had the more one would be respected.

The British wanted to control the profitable spice trade and the trade in precious stones and above all they wanted to monopolize the trade in India.




They were attracted by the good natural harbours at the Cape that allowed the British ships to anchor safely without being disturbed by the strong winds.

The British occupied the Cape for humanitarian reasons i.e. they wanted to save the African girls from the Dutch who were marrying off young girls at the Cape.

The British wanted to establish a defense base at the Cape to challenge the ships of their enemies especially those of the French and the Portuguese.

Some British officials wanted to abolish the enslavement of the Africans by the Dutch farmers which had caused a lot of sufferings to the Africans at the Cape.




The British wanted to spread Christianity so as to promote equality

brotherhood and unity among the different races living in South Africa.
It was a period of scramble and partition and the British being one of the imperial powers wanted to acquire more colonies outside Europe.
The Invasion of Holland by the French forces in 1795 was used as an excuse by the British to take over Cape from the Dutch in South Africa.

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